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Brioche 1

The word Brioche may get you craving the warm, fluffy, diet-crushing French bread, but today we’re referring to a considerably less guilty indulgence (which is also quite fluffy in it’s own way): the Brioche knit stitch. A textured stitch pattern that creates a voluminous fabric with a ribbed look, with just as much elasticity as a traditional 1×1 rib. Brioche may look intimidating, but it really is just a combination of stitches you likely already know well: a few yarn overs, slipped stitches, knit-two-together and you’re set! The perks of Brioche stitch? It’s reversible, it creates a thick, cushy fabric, and looks gorgeous when done with two colors, which can create beautiful color work that is almost 3D in its plushy texture.

This stitch is ideal for projects where you’ll want lots of stretchiness, such as hats or fitted garments with negative ease, or when you don’t want a “wrong side” to your project, such as in scarves or blankets. With its almost double-knit texture, this stitch also creates a dense fabric with lots of structure, which can be useful for something like the collar of a sweater. Within Brioche stitch there are also a dozen variations, including Waffle Brioche, Twisted Brioche, Moss Brioche, Honeycomb Brioche, Double Brioche and more. Most create a reversible fabric, and many can be worked with one or two colours, with some even incorporating a third colour.

Brioche 4

Fancy giving Brioche a try? After all, this kind is calorie free, what do you have to lose? Join us at the shop for a Beginner’s Brioche class on December 6th, from 3pm – 4:30pm where you’ll learn how to knit a pair of reversible fingerless mitts with two colours, just like the one’s worn by the lovely Jenny seen here! The sample was knit with the multicolour Noro Kureyon and Lamb’s Pride Worsted in a solid shade.

Brioche knitting is seeing a comeback these days, thanks in part to Stephen West, who released several patterns recently all of which feature Brioche. The stitch beautifully highlights both colour and texture in his gorgeous designs, as seen in the “Bundled in Brioche” scarf where colour blocking and vertical stripes create a vibrant, plush scarf showcasing a spectrum of colours. Great for eating up leftover yarn from other projects!

Brioche 3

An important tip to remember when knitting Brioche is to use a cast-on and bind-off method that will allow for the large range of elasticity you’ll get with this stitch. In this case it is often suggested to use the Italian cast-on, or Tubular cast-on, which create a very elastic, ribbed “invisible” edge where stitches seem to wrap around the hem.

So, have you worked up an appetite for Brioche yet? What is your favourite Brioche pattern or one you’ve been hungry to try?


“Using smaller needles and yarn held double…”

Does the idea of knitting with two (or more) strands of yarn at the same time give you the spooks? We’re hear to tell you that, despite the day that’s in it, there’s no need to fear!

Pictured above are Nadia’s two Barley hats, a lovely Daddy and Daughter set, knit using two strands of 4ply held together. In this case Nadia had the perfect yarns in mind from her stash (Camden Tweed and Hedgehog Sock Yarn) but needed to make them work for a pattern knit at a much thicker tension. Thankfully using two strands created the perfect fabric for this design (which calls for a worsted or aran weight yarn).

But wasn’t it awkward? Did she find it hard to identify each stitch? Were there lots of snagged and dropped stitches? Actually, not at all!


As you can see above the two strands of yarn actually end up quite snug together, and sit quite neatly at the top of their respective columns of stitches. Each stitch is readily identifiable and, should you ever accidentally knit in to only one strand, it’s a quick thing to catch and fix.

And what about the look of the fabric? Do we get uneven stitches, a muddle of texture, gaps and lumps? Again, nope!


You’d have to look very close indeed to see that two strands were used, and we’re actually quite in love with the effect of Camden Tweed held double. The resulting fabrics are plush and soft, and just perfect for keeping everyone warm this Halloween!

We’re thrilled to announce our next workshop, coming up next month. Elanor King will be here for the morning of Saturday 8th August, teaching us her amazing techniques for embellishing our knits.

Elanor, who is catchloops on Ravelry, is an Irish designer based in London. With an engineering background and an artist’s eye, she produces beautiful things using fun decorations like thrums and sequins and even loom bands, as well as the most effective embroidered details.

With Elanor’s help, you can learn how to add those distinctive touches that make your knits unique, and have a ball in the process! It all happens from 10.00am on Saturday August 8th, and you can nab a place right here.

And we really can’t wait to see the finished objects that happen then, can you?

“Slip a stitch” is a frequent instruction in patterns. It comes up in decreases, in some sorts of colourwork, at selvedges – all over the place, in fact. But it’s not always clear whether to slip knitwise or purlwise, and it can really make a difference.

So here’s the reason. When a stitch is sitting on your needle, it’s always at a bit of an angle. For the way most of us knit, the right hand side of the stitch is a bit closer to the tip of the needle than the left side.

But look what happens if you slip the stitch as if you were going to knit it. The needle goes into the stitch from left to right, and it starts to turn to face the knitter.

Continue to slip the stitch like this so that it moves off the left needle entirely and onto the right, and this is what you get. The stitch has turned round so that it’s facing the other way to all the rest.

This is the result that you want in an SSK decrease, for example. The stitch is turned round so that it’s not going to be twisted after the decrease is worked. There’s more about this at our directional decreases blog post.

So what happens if you slip purlwise? Well, let’s see:

The needle goes into the stitch from right to left, exactly as it does when you purl, and then when the stitch has shifted from the left needle to the right, you’ll see this:

The stitch is oriented the same way as the other stitches, with no change at all.

So when do you slip knitwise and when purlwise? There’s a handy rule of thumb: if the stitch is going to be involved in a decrease right away this moment, then slip knitwise. But the rest of the time, slip purlwise so it’s the same as all its companions, apart from not being worked. (Unless the pattern tells you otherwise, of course!)

There’s some more to say about stitch orientation and how it happens, so stay tuned!

The menagerie just keeps getting bigger! To the great delight of our child customers (and a lot of the adult ones too), Big Ted has recently arrived in the shop.

His two bear relations have been here for a while – they’re the teaching project for Colette’s toy-making class. So, in fact, is Big Ted. You see, this splendid trio have a message for us all: be adventurous with yarn choice!

All three bears are knitted with exactly the same pattern. The difference between them comes from using different weights of yarn, with needle size chosen to fit. The littlest Ted is made with Debbie Bliss Rialto Lace, and he comes out small enough to put in your pocket. Middle-sized Ted is more portly, made in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino. And our magnificent Big Ted is made from superbulky Debbie Bliss Roma!

The easiest way of sizing a pattern up or down is to change your yarn. Have you seen a baby cardigan that you’d love to make for a toddler, but the pattern doesn’t come in larger sizes? Try a thicker yarn. Matching hats for parent and child are adorable, and two different yarns can get you there without having to change anything else.

You can swatch and do the sums to work it all out in advance if you like, but most of the time it doesn’t matter. Colette knew when she started with Big Ted that he would be Big, and that was good enough! He’s an epic bear, and along with his friends, would love you to come and visit.

We love hand-dyed yarns, but there’s no doubt that they can vary a bit, even if you buy them together and check them carefully. Working a larger project with slightly different shades can mean that one half of your shawl doesn’t match the other, or that one sleeve is strikingly unlike the rest of the jumper. What’s more, if your yarn is a semi-solid, the variation can give you pooling, and that’s a prime example up above.

There’s a really easy fix for this. Instead of working all of one skein before changing to the next, alternate the two. After working two rows or rounds with your first skein, drop it and take up the second. Work two rows with that, then drop it and work two with skein one. That’s it. There’s no need to cut the yarn – just carry it loosely up the back of the work. We promise, no-one will ever notice the variation.

In fact, you can use this trick with non-hand-dyes as well. We featured a project a couple of months ago that used it, and we’d bet quite a lot that you didn’t spot it!

This is Little Apple, a modification of our Cute as One Button baby cardigan. By accident, the knitter who made it had three (yes, three!) different dyelots of Rico Essentials Soft Merino Aran in Light Grey lurking in stash, so it was alternate all the way. The yoke and sleeves were worked with the first and second ball, so they match each other.

The third skein wasn’t introduced until the body, alternating first with the remnants of the first, and when that ran out, with the second. If you look closely, you can see that there’s something going on. But it looks intentional, rather than having a crashing contrast halfway down one sleeve.

So those single non-matching balls can play happily together after all, and you can work big projects in delicious hand-dyes and keep the colour consistent all the way.

Oh, and the unhappy hand-dye in the top picture? The top was frogged and the yarn is much, much happier as a completely different project, so that story has a happy ending too!

Our Chicane Summer Knit-A-Long is well underway, and over in our very active Ravelry KAL thread there’s a stream of tempting pictures and reports.

Chicane is made with a lovely lacy stitch pattern, starting straight and then decreasing for the sleeves and body while continuing the lace. We’ve had requests for help on doing the decreases while in pattern, so that’s today’s blog topic: decreasing in a lace pattern.

So here’s our little swatch, with two repeats of the pattern across the row. We’re at the end of the second set of pattern rows, though you can reach the decrease point at any row of the lace. We’ve marked the centre, unmoving stitch of the pattern repeat closest to the edge with a stitch marker, following Jimi’s excellent suggestion in the pattern.

We want to work a decrease on both sides of every right side row. There’s two ways of integrating the decreases with the lace which each look a little different, so we’ll deal with them in turn.

For the first way, let’s go back to the very basics of lace. Lace knitting is made up of yarn overs which make the pretty holes, and decreases which compensate for the additional stitches made by the yarn overs. If you want to make a straight piece of lace, you need each yarn over to be balanced by a decrease. When you add a shaping decrease in there, you need to be sure that it’s in addition to your lace decreases.

It’s always a good idea to make your decreases a stitch or two in from the edge – it gives a smoother result and your seaming will be much neater. So your first ssk decrease happens after the first two stitches of the row, and neither of the stitches involved in the ssk are near any lace yarn overs or decreases, so you make your decrease and then work the lace bit when you come to it later in the row.

In this picture, we’ve made the shaping decrease and worked over to the lace yarn overs and decreases. At this point, nothing has happened near the lace, so there’s nothing interesting here at all.

But a few rows on, we reach this situation:

After the first two edge stitches, we’re due to make the shaping decrease. But now we’re right up against the lace, and the lace decrease would be using the same two stitches. Simply, the shaping decrease is more important, so we make a shaping ssk and ignore the lace decrease.

But remember, lace is yarn overs and decreases balancing each other. So here, where we can’t make the lace decrease, we leave out its yarn over too. Otherwise, we’d be adding a stitch with the yarn over and not taking it away with a decrease. The net result would be an extra stitch from the yarn over that we don’t want.

So that’s the trick to this way of shaping lace. If you can make both the decrease and its yarn over independent of the shaping decrease, then make all of them. But if you can’t, then make only the shaping decrease. Any other lace decreases and yarn overs in the middle of the row get made as usual, until you reach the far side and work the other part of the shaping:

This way of decreasing will give you lace that carries up as far as it can towards the edge of the knitted fabric – here we have our little swatch a bit further on, with the shaping well established.

You can clearly see where the shaping has nibbled progressively into the lace.

The second way of combining lace and shaping gives you larger sections of stocking stitch near your edges. In this method, you declare everything between the edge and the stitch marker that marks the centre of the lace pattern a No Lace Zone, and you just work it in stocking stitch. In other words, until you get to the marker, you ignore any lace instructions in the chart or the written instructions.

This gives you a result like this:

Both of these will give identically shaped pieces of fabric, so which you use really is knitter’s choice. Why not try out both on a small swatch like ours and see which you prefer?

Thank you for asking us to clarify how to do the shaping! And if you can think of any other techniques you’d like us to help with here, please ask!

We’re declaring today the first day of summer! It’s Cast On Day for our Summer ’15 Knit-A-Long, and we’ve even got the weather cooperating. So following on from our stitch markers technique post on Tuesday, we’ve got a nifty trick for managing the cast on for Chicane.

The first part of the pattern involves casting on 173 stitches, and then placing markers to divide the row into the lace pattern repeats. So we thought: why not use markers right from the start? It’ll make it easier to make sure there’s the right number of stitches, and then you’re all ready for the lace a few rows down the road.

We’re going to use two different sets of markers to mark different things. First of all, there’ll be two markers to separate out the edge stitches from the lace section, one at each end. We’re using little loops of contrasting coloured yarn for all our markers here, and these two are beige.

There’s two stitches in the edge portion, so we cast on two stitches, then place our first beige marker.

Looking ahead a few rows, the lace will be worked in twelve-stitch sections, and marking each section makes keeping track much easier. So we’ll need a number of markers in another colour, and we’re using purple here. We cast on twelve stitches after the beige marker, and pop on a purple one…

…cast on another twelve stitches, add another purple marker, and so on, right to the end of the cast on.

The last lace repeat has thirteen stitches in it, and right after that comes the second beige edge marker. Cast on the last two stitches, and we’re away to the races!

The very handy thing about casting on with markers like this is that the counting is really easy: twelve-stitch sections between each pair of markers except for that thirteen-stitch stretch at the end, and then all you have to count is the number of sections.

And then we’re off! Why not head on over to the Chicane KAL thread in our Ravelry group for inspiration? It’s going to be a great summer!

At the counter, we get asked a lot about how to use stitch markers, so we thought it would be a good idea to do a couple of posts on them. What’s more, Chicane, the chosen pattern for our summer Knit-a-Along, makes clever use of them, so this post counts as a bit of a warm up for that.

Stitch markers come in a variety of types – our online shop has a good selection, though a simple loop of contrasting yarn will work nicely too. They all share one thing: they sit placidly on your needle and tell you where you are in your row or your round. When you know where you are, the whole process becomes more relaxing and enjoyable. What’s not to love about that?

When you’re ready to place a marker, work to the place you want to mark, and choose a marker.

Then just pop it onto your right hand needle (patterns usually call this “place marker” or PM for short)…

…where it’ll just sit there, minding its own business.

Then just work your next stitch, as if the marker weren’t there at all.

When you look back in a few stitches’ time, this is what you’ll see. The marker’s right where you placed it, and the rest of the knitting just goes on around it.

When you come back to where the marker, on the next row or the next round, this is what you see:

Once you’ve worked the stitch right before, you’ll have the marker sitting there on the left hand needle.

Simply slip it from the left hand needle to the right hand (this is what patterns mean by “slip marker” or SM), and continue to work as normal.

Stitch markers mean less counting and less worrying about where you are in the pattern, as well as making it much easier to find mistakes, and that’s why we love them. What’s more, there’s other wily tricks for using them, which will make your Chicane flow more smoothly, so we’ll be talking about more marker magic in the next couple of weeks!

Chicane KAL

We’ve had some bright, fresh days of late and the stretch in evening is bringing thoughts of sweeping away cobwebs and starting new things! So we figured it’s time for a new Knit-a-Long, and that we should go all out and aim for a light and breezy summer garment in anticipation of the long lazy days of summer to come… We can dream anyway, right?

We went on the hunt for the perfect summer pattern, something lightweight and stylish, fun to knit and versatile to wear – and we think “Chicane” fits the bill. Knit in Juniper Moon Zooey, a perfect blend of cotton and linen, Chicane will take you from the beach to the park, from casual coffee to nights out with friends. Choose bold shades or go nautical, make a statement or remain coolly neutral… there’s something here for everyone.

How the KAL works:

  • You will receive 10% off the yarn with the code SKAL15 until start date of 10 April.
  • Specific techniques will be covered by tutorials on this blog, potential modifcations will be discussed and general support (both technical and moral!) will be offered all along the way.
  • We will be scheduling knitting assistance sessions at the shop for any specific technique challenges that come up and we’re always happy to lend a hand during quieter times in store.
  • Virtually round-the-clock help will be on hand via the dedicated thread in our TIK Ravelry group.
  • Everyone who has finished their garment by Sunday 7th of June will be entered in to a prize draw to win another project’s worth of yarn!
  • ____

    Would you like join us? Or do you have any questions? Post a comment below or over on Ravelry and we’ll get back to you asap.


    Materials Required

    Note: The same quantity of yarn is specified in the pattern for all sizes. If you don’t use all 4 balls then we will be happy to exchange or refund the extra yarn.

    For one solid colour

    4 x Juniper Moon Zooey (10% off with the discount code SKAL15)

    For contrast edged version

    4 x Juniper Moon Zooey in Main Colour and 1 x Juniper Moon Zooey in Contrast Colour

    Needles and Notions

    4.5mm 80cm Circular Needle
    4mm 80cm Circular Needle
    Stitch Markers
    Waste Yarn
    Measuring Tape
    Tapestry Needle

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